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Power Up for Positive Change

positive changePower Up for Positive Change!

Training Your Brain for a Successful Mental Shift

Each day, we are given a gift of time. You know that you have 24 hours in a day, so let’s break that down into minutes. There are 1,440 minutes each day to work, play, make a difference in your life and be the person you secretly want to be. You have ample time to power up for positive change!

In fact, it takes about the same amount of time to make an excuse for why you aren’t living the life you desire – as it does to make small positive actions that will become live-changing.

One of the best ways to begin making a mental shift is to quit fighting the old you; those emotionally charged childhood memories, unhealthy habits or self-sabotaging actions don’t serve you well. Divert your attention toward building the newer version of you; Begin to focus on WHERE you want to be and how you WANT to behave. Start right this minute.

Action changes things! Many times people find a new action creates a ripple in a different direction or portion of their life. Ride the energy toward positive change. You can train your mind to be more fit with daily decisions that will directly impact the result you want to achieve. Your goals will define your actions. Write down one goal to get started on the new you.

Here are three tools for creating a healthy mindset and mental attitude:

1) Be Grateful

Look for reasons to be grateful. Take time on a daily or weekly basis to write down why these events, people or experiences fulfilled you and made you thankful. The physical process of writing down your thoughts creates a real change in your brain.

2) Be Mindful

In essence, being mindful is to find or maintain a non-judgmental sense of attention to the present moment. Instead of becoming angry, emulating other’s negative energy or turning inward and focusing on emotions that can consume you, stop! Observe, be “in the moment” and explore all the details around you without relapsing into old habits or reliving emotional drama. When you dredge up old memories, the situation now becomes “all about you.”
Stephen Covey shared a moving story about a dad and his rowdy children on an NYC subway in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. It is a fabulous insight into the effects of being mindful – which often results in a paradigm shift.

3) Fake it until you Become It

You can embark on a new adventure or career choice before you have achieved your vision of ultimate perfection. Don’t wait to lose ten pounds to attend a class reunion or feel you must have $500 in the bank before you look for a new job. Began to act the way you dream of being. As you make those subtle changes and actions each day, over time, you can become the person that you were dreaming of being. Just as Popeye boosted his power with spinach to be strong, you can power up for positive change and achieve your vision with intentional choices. Think about this famous Winston Churchill quote, “Continuous effort, not strength or intelligence, is the key to unlocking our potential.” Aim High! You might just make it!

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Time Value of Money

Understanding The Time Value of Money

Today’s guest post is by Gary Forman, founder of the Dollar Stretcher newsletter and website. One of his clients asked Gary:

“Does anyone think that $20,000 will buy a new car forty years from today? Maybe it’s time for an article on the time value of money, accounting for inflation in long term investment plans, and related issues.” ~  Lester

Lester was referring to an article that I had written saying that when you buy something today, you’re agreeing not to buy something more expensive later. And, he’s right. You can’t simply take today’s prices and expect them to be valid for future purchases, especially if you’re looking more than a few years into the future.

The concept of rising prices is only one component of an economic theory called “the time value of money.”

Having money over a period of time is valuable. Money can earn more money. Suppose that you had $100 today and could earn 10% on it. A year from now you’d have $110. In two years $121. So having that $100 is valuable.

Also, I’d rather have $100 today than wait and get it tomorrow. I won’t earn much interest in one day, but it should be worth a little more tomorrow. It’s also safer getting it today. There’s always that possibility, however small, that you won’t get the money tomorrow. By getting it today, you’ve eliminated that risk.

Another area where the time value of money applies is in the area of retirement planning. Suppose that you expect to retire in 20 years. You know that prices will rise before then. But can you estimate by how much?

Rule of 72

A quick and easy way to answer that question is to use the rule of 72. The formula is easy. The number of years in the future times the interest rate you expect equals 72. That’s how long it will take for prices to double.

Let’s do an example. You want to know how long it will take prices to double if inflation is 6%. A little algebra tells us that you divide 72 by 6. Thus, prices will double in 12 years. So if you expect to retire in 20 years and inflation is 6%, prices will be nearly 4 times higher when you retire. ($1 x 2 = $2 in 12 years. That $2 x 2 = $4 the next 12 years. Or 4 times in 24 years)

Suppose that you had $100 today and could earn 10% on it. A year from now you’d have $110. In two years $121. So having that $100 now is valuable. Also, I’d rather have $100 today than wait and get it tomorrow. I won’t earn much interest in one day, but it should be worth a little more tomorrow. It’s also safer getting it today. There’s always that possibility, however small, that you won’t get the money tomorrow. By getting it today, you’ve eliminated that risk.

If you play with the formula, you’ll find that the rate of interest you choose makes a big difference in the results. For instance, 3% inflation would mean that prices would double every 24 years. Quite a difference compared to our first example – going up 4 times in the same amount of time.

You can also use the same formula to calculate how long it will take your money to double in an investment account. For instance, if you’re earning 9% on your investments, it will take 8 years to double. (9 x 8 = 72).

You may want to get more precise than our little formula will allow. For that, you’ll need something called a financial function calculator. It will do a lot more than the time value of money formula, but it’s easy enough to learn how to use it for time value questions. And, they’re not expensive.

Some people will subtract the inflation rate from their investment return to get a “real” rate of return on their retirement savings. For instance, if you earned 8% on the money and inflation was 3%, you’ve really gained 5% in buying power.

Another application for time value of money is when you’re trying to decide which payment plan you’d prefer. What happens if you were told that you could buy a car for $20,000 cash today. Or you could make $400 payments for 60 months. Or you could put $4,000 down and make $375 payments for 48 months.

You could add up all the payments you would make, and that would be a good rough estimate. But you’d get a more precise answer by using a calculator to bring everything back to today’s dollars so that you’d have a fairer comparison.

$1 today is more valuable

Don’t be intimidated by the concept. Just remember that having $1 today is more valuable that having one a year from now. And the same holds true if you’re paying. A dollar that you pay today is more valuable than one that you’ll pay next year.
With an understanding of the time value of money and the ability to use the rule of 72, you can help yourself in a variety of common money situations.

~~~~~~~

Thanks Gary! This article by Gary Foreman originally appeared in The Dollar Stretcher.com.

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website and newsletters in 1996. He’s been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money, Credit.com and CreditCards.com. Gary shares his philosophy of money here. You can follow Gary on Twitter or visit Gary Foreman on Google+. Gary is also available for audio, video or print interviews. For more info see his media page.

Time Value of Money Image via weakonomics.com

 

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Finding Personal Success

Finding Personal Success

Finding Personal Success

Thirty years ago, success was defined as working at one company for a lifetime and being a loyal worker. Today, finding personal success can be found in many ways. Increase your personal viability by searching for opportunities that give you the power to grow. Build your success within an existing organization or seeking new ventures beyond a routine 9-5 job. Additionally, increasing  your skill level often results in an exciting job in an emerging field. Don’t sell yourself short.

As you review any negative inner dialogue, toss away outdated opinions or self defeating ideas that no longer work for you. This helps you redefine up your concept of success. Now it’s time to plan the next steps you need to fulfill your goals. Be positive in order to set yourself up as a winner.  Map out your strategic plan with small bite-sized goals that are fairly easy to achieve. The first thing to remember in your quest to find personal success is to be prepared – there will probably be bumps along the way, along with some frustrating moments. However, you can move past these challenges by being prepared, flexible and learning to maneuver more effectively.

Take a moment to assess your talents, time and budget.

If you are unsure, you can turn around feelings of insecurity:

• Evaluate your social circle
• Surround yourself with like-minded people who support you
• Budget truthfully to know your current financial position

An honest assessment regarding your current situation results in a more successful result.

Every past decision brought you exactly where you are today.

This is where you wanted to be! Every decision you have made led you to this place. Do you like where you are? Does it fulfill the “dream life” you envisioned? If this place in life shocks you, don’t despair, because today is the opportunity to make a change. As a matter of fact, now is the best time to formulate a fresh plan.

This is my favorite part of the equation because this is where you make some Money Magic appear. How do you make this happen? It is totally up to you. YOU control the numbers. YOU define how and where you want to spend your money. YOU set intentions and YOU take action. Therefore, don’t let the media, advertisers, family or friends tell you what YOU want. Take a stand and invest in YOU! I would like to point out that stating what is most important in your life results in a personal and financial roadmap that delivers a genuine outcome.

Reaffirm strategic goals

“I am passionate about ________ and my goal is to someday _________!”

As a result of stating what is meaningful, consistent actions every day result in completing many small goals. Finding your personal success is enhanced by achieving goals consistently. Winning begets winning, and this mental strength becomes a tool for you to build a meaningful, prosperous life – even when detours pop up along the way!

Charting Your Course

Now you are charting your own course with thoughtful intention. As you know, budgets ebb and flow, but continue to invest in your long-term plans. The benefit of planting seeds of intentional, conscious choice are evident when you finally purchase your first home or take that coveted “over the top” European vacation. Living an abundant life becomes a way of life, not just a one-time destination. In fact, now is the time to harvest the rewards!

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Give the Gift of Time

3x3-christmas-starsThis year, Give the Gift of Time!

Choosing to make conscious choices for your money and life may have implications for many aspects of your life. Consider giving the gift of time this year. Create a mental space to listen to your thoughts. Decide how to spend the last ten days of your holiday season, using your goals to give you focus.

Visualize your “perfect” holiday. Maybe it includes parties with friends, spending time with family, or taking the time to express your gratitude. December is such a hectic time of year. Many people feel overwhelmed by obligations presented by school, work, family, and friends. Invest your time in activities that bring you the most value.

Choose which activities you will spend your time on and know that you may miss some parties or invites. Setting boundaries for a successful holiday helps you maintain your sanity, increase your sense of gratefulness and keep your “spirits bright!”

Take that one step further and give the gift of time with those closest to you this month. Listen to your spouse, best friend or family members and notice what is important to them. Investing time with people who are special in your life strengthens your bond with them, creating more meaningful relationships.

When shopping, purchase one item and plan an experience to accompany the gift – instead of buying multiple gifts for everyone. Purchasing a new sweater? Plan a date night to enjoy the new outfit. Have a friend who loves to cook? Wrap up a kitchen gadget and sign up for a cooking class together. Give a gift of time to complete the gift in a box! Many people find that spending time with others reaps greater benefits in the journey of life.

Share some of the activities that your family or circle of friends love to do — and make the holidays extra special every year.

Happy Holiday!

Bob

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Create New Habits Today

3x3-TMN-Break Chain of DebtAre you still living with an old story you tell yourself – or is it time to create new habits? Start today to intentionally listen, analyze and make changes in your vocabulary.

You may say, “I’m broke; I never seem to get ahead.” Maybe you can explore a new way of thinking and say, “I’m broke; I wonder why I always feel that way.” Take back your power to choose. Envision what you want to spend your money on and state how you might make some changes.

Without blaming yourself, you can create new habits by stating what is actually happening in your daily decisions. For example: “I’m broke because I chose not to save any money this week.”

This gives you the opportunity to be curious, be aware of current actions and think about other choices you’d prefer to make. Hmm…. “It’s interesting to see how and where I’m spending my money. I’d like to find ways to shift some of my dollars this week toward my dreams.”

So instead of repeating, “I’m broke”… Try these: “I am going to make positive choices with my money. I want to consciously choose where I want my income to go, instead of drifting with old habits and being unhappy at the end of the month.” For example, if you like having nice clothes and the trendiest shoes, but have no money in the bank and are ready to make a change – you can begin to choose a new way of talking to yourself.

Try this on for size: “I want nice clothes and I want money in the bank. I will choose to wait and buy the shoes when they go on sale and will put the difference in price in the bank.” Or maybe you decide, “I like nice clothes and I have trouble telling myself no, so I will put $25 in the bank each week before I go to the mall!” Now you are choosing to say “yes!”

Yes to change.

        Yes to new possibilities

                 Yes to conscious choices! That’s a great way to be “stepping-out!”

~Bob

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SPEND MONEY ON EXPERIENCES, not THINGS

3x3 Vacation TimeSpend Money on Experiences, not Things!

Sounds hedonistic, but spending money on experiences over things may bring you a higher level of genuine joy and longer-lasting satisfaction in life. We all have a limited amount of money to spend and want to allocate our resources for maximum results. Earning more money brings happiness – but only up to a certain point. People need a place to live, a car and food on the table, but before you buy that next new “thing,” take a moment to determine if you would be more satisfied spending money on an experience with family or friends over a new iPhone.

A new gadget or piece of technology often causes us to swell with pride in a brief moment of that “Wow” factor when showing off the new purchase. Physical products often lose their value as they become a mundane piece of your life and let’s face it – there is always something newer, better, or that has more options.

The concept of spending money on experiences over material purchases has been studied in-depth by Cornell psychology professor Thomas Gilovich. For over a decade, he has been trying to understand how and why experiential purchases are so much better than material products. Using the simple concept of conscious choice, you can create a life that is rich in its abundance by sharing experiences and connecting with the people you love.

In fact, if you have ever been at a party where you are meeting new people, it is easy to connect with someone when you realize that both of you ran the same marathon, hiked the same trail in a national park or vacationed in the same city. It doesn’t matter if they spent $10,000 and you spent $900. Both trips were equally as exciting! The shared experience bonds you as you both compare notes, relive your trip, and refresh the memories.

Summer is quickly passing, and if you have not taken the time to refresh yourself, there are still some great experiences waiting for you! Take a pass on a new car and use the one you have. Journey to a fabulous week with family or friends and make memories that will last a lifetime! Here is a great website to help you purchase an experience before the leaves begin to turn: http://www.lastminutetravel.com/PagePackageSearch.aspx

Remember to take time to stop and smell the roses!

Bob

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Vacation Travel Hacks

The Money Nerve travel hacks

Everyone deserves an escape from work now and then and you don’t need to break your piggy bank. Make the most of your vacation dollars by planning ahead, and using money-savvy travel hacks to create an oasis of fun and relaxation!

You know you need a break and want to find the best spot. Here are a couple of tips for you to find the best solutions for both traveling and sticking to your budget.

  • Book fixed-cost trips: Explore and select trips that fit the exact dollar amount in your budget. No extra fees & no surprises. Another method for destination selection is to pick a theme. Base your trip on some of your favorite activities. Love wine? Tour a few vineyards or participate in a cooking class seminar. History buffs can find numerous forts and museums across the country while nature lovers have incredible opportunities to hike and bike, enjoying a personal experience in stunning landscapes.
  • Plan Ahead: Find discount codes for your favorite destination and pre-purchase museum tickets, boat rides or city-saver coupon books ahead of time. You will be amazed at how much money you can save!
  • Road Trips: Today, gasoline is still very reasonable and driving is a cost efficient mode of travel. Allow time for side trips and enjoy several stops along the way. Check out some of the most popular USA road trips HERE.
  • Spectacular Landscape: Another fabulous way to see America: Visit nps.gov to find a national park within driving distance. For more road trip ideas, visit http://www.visittheusa.com.
  • Lower Hotel Costs: Travel with friends and family and rent a condo or house. One option is to find smaller independently owned hotels that are not part of a chain. Many times you will get more personal service and spend less. Tired of slow elevators and too many people? Investigate AirBNB or Vacation Homes By Owner for spacious digs at half the price of hotels.
  • Popular Destinations: Find the “hot-spot” and stay in the nearest town for bigger savings. For example, if you are going to Niagara Falls, stay outside of Buffalo, New York – it’s only a 20-minute drive across the border.
  • Flying: Be sure to check flight rates often, use the online travel services that compare prices and send you alerts; farecompare.com, farecast.com, yapta.com, travelocity.com.

Vacations are great stress relievers and bring a sense of renewal to the fast pace of everyday life.  Reward yourself! Be proactive and reap the benefits of your hard work without going into debt.  Be sure to follow @themoneynerve on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for more travel hacks.

Have a great vacation this summer — You deserve it!

Bob

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SPRING CLEANING YOUR FINANCES

Spring Clean 4x4 300 dpiWhat are you waiting for? It’s Time to Spring Clean your Finances! For most people, the idea of climbing Mount Everest is scary. The thought of walking along a narrow trail with a three-thousand-foot cliff at its edge may leave you frozen in your tracks. In a similar scenario, some people are terrified of facing their budgets, their level of spending and how they will live once they have retired.

Most people spend their lives confronting financial fear by ignoring it.

Join me for a quick and easy “Spring Cleaning your Finances challenge! For the next two weeks, I will be sharing easy tips for you to clean out what you don’t need and give you some tools to make the most of the income you have! Clear out the dust, drop that debt and take advantage of #TheMoneyNerve tips to “Spring Clean Your Finances!”

Please like and share the Money Nerve posts and feel free to share some of your favorite tips for saving money. Tag @themoneynerve and use the hashtags #SpringClean #TheMoneyNerve when sharing or posting. On Monday, May 2, one winner will be randomly selected from these social media posts to win a complimentary 30-minute financial session with me via Skype.

Financial fear can make you stop in your tracks. Not taking a look at your account balances, not making any decisions, ignoring your family, and not knowing when to take good advice are a few examples of how people start to freeze up. Now that tax time has ended, it is the perfect opportunity to review, refine and move forward financially. It is smart to re-organize your life: the house, the garage, the medicine cabinet, and your finances on an annual basis. Fine-tuning your goals will help to make the next year easier and more prosperous!

Let’s go!

Bob

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Setting Your Priorities

Shift in Perspective

Re-evaluating what is most important can be life changing. Studies have proven that effective goal setting can bring about significant change in a person’s thought actions and lifestyle.

Sometimes people procrastinate because the task seems to big to handle. Some folks concentrate on tiny meaningless decisions that don’t make an impact on critical choices. Some people think there just isn’t enough time, but in creating a slight mental shift, time and desire can redirect your time, efforts and concentration to become more productive in your choices.

One of the benefits you may have as you make progress in one or two areas — you may find that your renewed focus and energy manifest positive changes in other aspects of your life as well. Setting goals is an excellent way to discover your true internal beliefs and take actions that are true to the “real” you. You can learn to create balance and success in both your personal and professional live.

While it may feel overwhelming, stating intentions and setting goals can be broken down into a few easy steps.

  • Step 1: Write down all of your goals for the next 2-5 years. Rank them by what you desire most and then make a side note determining if the goals are easy or difficult. Breaking the bigger, more challenging goals into smaller “chapters” gives you the ability to work out a solution over time.
  • Step 2: Realize you can’t make massive changes in every area of your life at the same time. Pick three main goals to begin with and stay focused on those first.
  • Step 3: Write down your goals and start a journal to review your thoughts, write yourself notes or log inspirational quotes or ideas to keep you going. You may find the goal evolves with time, producing better results.
  • Step 4: Reward yourself for success. Many “pint-sized” steps can culminate in achieving substantial results. Take time to recognize small victories and “treat” yourself with a little reward.

Life is a series of snapshots and moments that create the wholeness and beauty of our lives – rejoice in it!

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GO the DISTANCE

Change your mindsetAsk yourself where you would like to be in one year or five years. Would you like to be free of credit card debt? Would you like to have traveled the world? Would you like to have put away money in a retirement account? Would you like to change your spending habits? Would you like to see 50,000 dollars in savings?

Once you know where you would like to be, state your goal. A year from now, I’d like to stop using credit cards. In five years, I’d like to be credit card debt free. A year from now, I want to go to school for additional training. In five years, I’d like to be in another career or own my own company.

Quiet the censor in your mind and just let your imagination travel where it likes. After allowing yourself this quiet time every day, you may be surprised to see where your imagination takes you! Take advantage of planning ahead then every three months or so, sit down and adjust your budget. You can still get to where you want to go, you are just allowing yourself to keep it real and tweak the plan, as needed.

Finances will always be a part of your life—not something you can ever move past. Confront your financial fears and set aside an hour per week to update your records. If you use computer software, download your bank statement and expenses. Balance your checkbook. Keeping up with your money each week for a small amount of time will help you stay on track for your bigger goals.

Make an effort to spend responsibly. Make a list of all bills you get each month, and then check them off your list as you pay them. That way, if you didn’t receive a bill, you still realize it has to be paid. Spreadsheets are a great way to keep track of expenditures. Once a year, list your assets and debts to get a sense of your net worth. Now you have a true road map of where you have been and can move more efficiently toward your current financial destination!